Fat Kid Rules the World

Fat Kid Rules the World

by K. L. Going

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A Michael L. Printz Honor Book

Troy Billings is seventeen, 296 pounds, friendless, utterly miserable, and about to step off a New York subway platform in front of an oncoming train. Until he meets Curt MacCrae, an emaciated, semi-homeless, high school dropout guitar genius, the stuff of which Lower East Side punk rock legends are made. Never mind that Troy’s dad thinks Curt’s a drug addict and Troy’s brother thinks Troy’s the biggest (literally) loser in Manhattan. Soon, Curt’s recruited Troy as his new drummer—even though Troy can’t play the drums. Together, Curt and Troy will change the world of punk, and Troy’s own life, forever.

"Troy's voice is candid, irreverent, realistic and humorous. [A] wonderful, engrossing tale."—SLJ


BCCB Blue Ribbon Book

Booklist Editors' Choice

An SLJ Best Book of the Year

Miami Herald Best Book of the Year

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101554937
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 11/18/2004
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
Lexile: 700L (what's this?)
File size: 398 KB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

K. L. Going lives with her family in the Hudson Valley area of New York State. Since graduating from college she has worked as an adult literacy tutor, a ticket agent for a major airline, a front desk clerk at a resort hotel, and an assistant in a Manhattan literary agency. She has lived in Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and New York. K.L. is the author of many books, including Fat Kid Rules The World, The Liberation of Gabriel King, and Dog in Charge. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World, was a YALSA Michael L. Printz honor book.

Read an Excerpt

Skinny Punk Genius Saves Fat Kid

"Lucky for you I was at that station," Curt says as he watches me eat. "I mean, since I saved your life and all." His eyes track each bite I take, but when I offer him my fries he won't take any.

"I wasn't going to jump," I say, holding a french fry in the air. I'm lying, but only halfway.

Curt scoffs.

"Were," he says as if there's no argument. "I was watching you for, like, an hour. That rude, twirpy kid left, then three trains passed and you never looked up from the tracks. Then the insane laughter and I knew you'd lost it. I said to myself, Curt, you save this kid's life and he will surely buy you lunch."

"I wasn't going to jump," I say again with my best resolute look. I was just thinking. Just thinking."

Curt considers this at length.

"How come?" he finally asks.

I want to give him the you-moron look the kids at school have perfected. Maybe say something sarcastic like, "Use your imagination." I want to say, "Open your eyes. I'm a fucking three-hundred-pound teenager living in the most unforgiving city on earth. I'm ugly and dumb and I make stupid noises when I breathe. I annoy and bewilder my only living parent, mortify my little brother, and have no friends."

I shrug.

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Fat Kid Rules the World 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 92 reviews.
Franklinwriting More than 1 year ago
The book is about Troy, "I'm a sweating fat kid standing on the edge of the subway platform staring at the tracks. I'm seventeen years old, weigh 296 pounds, and I'm six foot one. This book isn't something you're going to want to put down after the first 4 pages like all other books. This one will keep you interested from the very start until the end. The dialog they use for each character is just how any teenager would be talking. The descriptions of certain people and places can paint a picture in your head as if you were actually there. It is creative,fun and there is never a dull moment. Troy meets up with a dropout musician from his school name Curt McGrae right before he is about to jump into the oncoming train. Curt saves him and insists on lunch. Troy agrees, and after a very few things occur, Troy ends up in Curt's band! Not knowing how to play the drums and being self conscience about himself how is he going to go on stage and play next to the "famous" musician?! Troy is caught in a lie so far and he can't come to say that he can't play the drums. How will Curt react? What will happen to Troy? Read the book to find out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I watched the movie and thought it was a really good, touching story that had it's funny moments. Then I read the book. Mind. Blown. The book was amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Fat Kid Rules the World is a great story for anyone who loves a good book about friendship, music, and hard times! The characters are interesting, the storyline is compelling, and the writing is done very well. Great book, I would recommend it to anyone!
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Troy Billings is seventeen years old. He weighs 296 pounds. He's six foot one. And he has a crew cut. Yeah, that's right, a crew cut. He is a sweating fat kid standing on the edge of the subway platform over the yellow line and looking down. And, if you think about it right, there's something funny about it, there really is. At least until Curt MacCrae, the wily blonde ferret of a boy--sometimes student, sometimes dropout, all-the-time legend (and all-the-time homeless) boy/guitar genius, saves Troy's life. Suddenly, instead of jumping in front of the F train Troy is the new drummer in Curt's band. Even though he can't actually play the drums. As Troy learns the ins and outs of Punk Rock and being Curt's friend, he also finds that hitting it big as a drummer and in life might have a lot more to do with his attitude than is weight in Fat Kid Rules the World (2004) by K. L. Going. I didn't realize it until just now when I was writing up the summary part of the review (I write those all myself, did you all know that?), but this is actually one of my favorite books. It's not easy being the outsider because you can't shop at the same stores as the skinny kids or because you're plain old bigger than everyone else.* It's not easy having a brother who thinks you're a loser or a father who pretty much knows you're a waste of space. Troy has all of those things bringing him down. He also has the most amazing sense of humor that comes through in every page of the book in his charming narration. Going manages to take a story that could be tragic and make it funny, poignant, hopeful and amazing. It's short enough to dazzle reluctant readers, deep enough to thrill anyone looking for something more "literary." In short, Fat Kid Rules the World is just kind of a great book. But not everyone thinks so . . . *cue dramatic segue music* For those of you who might not know, we are smack in the middle of Banned Books Week (September 25 to October 2, 2010). Banned Books Week is an annual thing that ALA has been organizing since 1982. It's a week to raise awareness about books that are challenged in local libraries for reasons ranging from vaguely logical in a skewed-censorship-supporting-way to the completely insane (like this guy who thought Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was pornographic**). At its core, Banned Books Week is, quite simlpy, about celebrating the freedom to read whatever you want. (Possibly also to read whatever you want without remorse.) Thankfully larger library systems, like the one where I work, don't have a lot of challenges that reach this level. But many libraries do and it's a serious problem because people should be able to make their own decisions about what they read. And it's not just modern books either, many popular classics are banned or challenged all the time. To celebrate Banned Books Week The Rejectionist and T. H. Mafi have proposed that everyone post a review of their favorite banned book on September 30, so here (obviously) is my review of Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going which was the 58th most banned book of the decade (here's the bonus list for 1990 to 1999) and also one of the sweetest, most optimistic books out there (in a manly, all of the characters are boys, kind of way). Oh and it was a Printz Award honor book in 2004.
francescadefreitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't have an ear for music, but this book made me want to find some drums hit them 'til my hands hurt. The story of how Troy, the fat kid, meets Curt the punk dropout, and together they make a band, and it is awesome.Troy's terrible self-conciousness rings true from start to finish, and the sheer physicality of his descriptions made me feel like I could almost get what it would be like to be a teenage boy.Despite the title, the story has nothing to do with being the fat kid, and everything to do with grabbing what's important and running with it.
kewpie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Troy was over 300 pounds and depressed to the point of suicide. At the lowest point of his life, he meets with a homeless boy, Curt. Even though Troy has never picked up a musical instrument, he wants Troy to be a drummer in his band. As the book progresses, Troy's self esteem improves. He doesn't lose weight -- the biggest change comes from within. This is an excellent coming of age novel, and reminded me a lot of my own high school experiences.
irisdovie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book because it reminded me of my own life. I know what it's like to feel like an outsider like the 'fat kid', Troy Billings. I would recommend this book on a reading list because it is well written, engaging, and also about a kid who is finally accepted even though he is very obese.
RosanaSantana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Troy runs into Curt while trying to convince himself to jump in front of a train. Curt decided he and Troy are going to start a a band together. Turns out Curt has a bit of a over the counter drug problem.
Jennanana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Listened to the audiobook; narrated by Matthew Lillard who did an awesome job. He kept my attention the whole story. Troy is an overweight, depressed teen who is befriended by a homeless kid, Curt, whom he goes to school with. Curt insists they start a band and that Troy will play the drums, but Troy hasn't played the drums since 7th grade. Trying to get gigs, Troy is a trainwreck when he's afraid he'll bomb. In the end he realizes he isn't just a fat kid, he's a fat kid who can be cool. Witty, some foul language, drug use.
erinbreland on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy in high school whose name is Troy. Troy weighs 300 pounds and is contemplating death when he meets Curt, a homeless guy that Troy doesn't realize at the time but will change his life. Curt wants Troy to play the drums in his new band although Troy doesn't exactly know how to play the drums. THe drums is the first interest that Troy has had since his mother dies and his father although skeptical about it is glad that he finally has an interest in something. Curt is a high school drop out and was a legend in high school who plays the guitar.Curt's attitude is wild and free spirited and Troy def needs this type of attitude to rub off on him.The band and Curt rescue Troy from a father and a brother who do not get him or the world that he lives in.I think that this book is great for the classroom. The language in this book can be a bit rough so do not recommend it for any grades younger than 9th grade. The reading level is low but the language is controversial. This book will be great for the classroom library and i think children will be able to relate because Troy deals with many things that many other adolescents deal with also. SUch as not fitting in, and the fact that his mother dies and his father and his brother don't understand him does not help matters much. Another great thing that this book can be used for is to get children interested in reading. This book is one of those books that can pull children in and when they finish the book and they think, "wow if all books are that great i am going to have to read more often." this is that kind of book.I loved this book. I loved every part of it and i would once again recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Everyone go out and get this book and read it!!!!!!!!!!
sexy_librarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Aside from the general synopsis that may be found in many other reviews (fat kid meets local rock star who changes his life and visa versa) I don't know how to describe this book. It's partly psychological, as there are no fights or chase scenes or major action of that sort, but it's an easy sort of life lesson that you get at the end. The main character, Troy, actually changes and grows by the end of the book, which I appreciate, but he doesn't just up and come to some grand realization, he struggles towards it. I think this could be read by middle school kids, as well as high school kids and all would enjoy it.
Kskye on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first heard about Fat Kid Rules the World in Sherman Alexie¿s The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (which I love.) His protagonist Junior lists the book as one of his favorites. So when I saw it this weekend I had to buy it. This book didn¿t really advocate losing weight, in fact the protagonist gains some more by the end of this book, but it did advocated being worthy of being happy no matter the circumstance and taking advantage of opportunities that come your way. It¿s not a preachy book, but it still gets its message across. Sort of like an episode of Oprah.Knowing you are worthy of happiness. . .I'm a sweating Fat Kid standing just over the yellow line...Troy Billings is contemplating suicide at the beginning of this novel. At seventeen he is 296 pounds and six-foot-one. He lives his life without any friends and even his younger brother can¿t stand him. In fact his brother said he wouldn¿t miss him if he died. While he waits for the train to arrive he contemplates whether people would laugh at his death since they laugh at everything he does. He considers the fact that he¿d probably mess up his own suicide which morbidly makes him laugh. It¿s this laugh that starts a conversation that will change the course of his life. An incredibly skinny homeless guy who is caked with dirt happens to stop his suicide. It turns out this vagrant is Curt MacCrae, a legend at W.T. Watson High School. Everyone respects him despite losing every fight he¿s ever been in. He is a genius guitar player and he has just decided that he wants Troy to be his drummer. Yeah, except Troy doesn¿t play drums.Details, PleaseThis book is raw. It doesn¿t sugarcoat anything. Troy is obese in a way that makes others uncomfortable and Curt lies and steals, not to mention he¿s hooked on prescription drugs.These characters are not perfect and both have issues, but despite that I found them likeable. Troy just wants to fit in and Curt just wants a stable home. They can be destructive to themselves, but not to others. Curt ends up teaching Troy lessons like owning up to what he likes, and learning about punk rock. It¿s Curt's confidence in Troy that helps transform him, and Troy's genuineness that convinces Curt to get help.You don't have to be overweight or a guy to get Troy's voice. Most people battle with self-consciousness and self-worth. Everyone wants to find a niche for themselves. I love that the beginning starts with saving a life and so does the end. This book just has heart. Troy shows growth, and along the way he not only learns to play drums, but converse through them. He's a fat kid who rules the world.
baachan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
K.L. Going tells the story of Troy, a 260 pound Manhattan high school student who, while contemplating throwing himself in front of a train, meets Curt MacRae, dropout legend at Troy's high school. They form a band, but first Troy has to learn how to play the drums. The relationship between Troy and Curt has its instabilities, but eventually, the friendship stabilizes as their band finally gets to rock out. While the ending isn't entirely believable--military dad lets Curt come live with Troy's family--everything else was on-target. The Curt's unpredictability, Troy's self-image, and the bond they form (because stranger things have happened) all seem authentic. Going writes engagingly and seems to have enjoyed creating the events in the plot just as much as the reader enjoys the re-creation of them. I think that one of the central themes is that nobody needs to let their body define who they are or what they'd want to do. So what if punk rockers are all skinny and emaciated? As long as you can play, you can be punk rock. Or translate that to the wider world: as long as you're competent, you can be whatever you want when you grow up. This piece provides an empowering message for teens; however, I would have liked Going to explore the suicide angle a little more in-depth, instead of just using it as a plot device to bring Curt and Troy together (which is why I took away one star from the rating). A definite must-buy for teen collections at public libraries; school libraries may want to skim it before adding it to the collection. I actually got my copy from Hatcher; AADL doesn't own this one.
girlingreen4090 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going is a fabulous book. It's a story of friendship and self discovery all rolled into one. The characters are great and you can really get into the story line. I've read this book three times now and I would read it again three more times.
yourotherleft on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So it's not a stretch to be standing on the wrong side of the yellow line giving serious thought to whether people would laugh if I threw myself in front of the F train. And that's the one thing that can't happen. People can't laugh. Even I deserve a decent suicide.When Troy Billings meets skinny, semi-homeless, punk rock guitar prodigy Curt MacCrae on the subway platform he's contemplating whether throwing himself in front of a train would constitute a decent suicide. Soon Troy is buying lunch for his quirky, unreliable, dirty would-be savior. With a little lie, or so he thinks, here and there, Troy, the Fat Kid, finds himself being unwittingly propelled way outside his comfort zone and into Curt MacCrae's band. Thus begins Troy's journey to discovering that people aren't always what they seem including himself.In Troy and Curt, Going has created a pair of all-too-human, realistic, and awesome characters. In the first person narration, Troy's voice is totally convincing. The story is full of his self-effacing wit, his considerable doubts and fears, his total befuddlement that this school legend of sorts, has, for some reason, chosen him, the Fat Kid to be his drummer. Troy barely sees himself as person, rather as the Fat Kid, and that someone considers him capable of doing something, anything other than huffing or jiggling or any of the rest of that "Fat Kid" stuff, catches him terribly by surprise.And Curt. Curt is a brilliantly drawn character as well. Here's a kid that projects this self-assured street smart "I don't care what you think of me" sort of vibe, and yet, through Troy's eyes, despite Troy's total ignorance of it, emerges this scared, vulnerable, homeless kid for whom the only certainties in life are that things won't work out and that people can't be counted on. Troy needs someone to teach him his own worth, and Curt needs someone to be rock steady, and little does either of them know that that's what they need much less if they can be that for each other. "That moment when you see through all the bullshit?" he says a moment later. "That's what punk music is all about. That's what anything great is all about. We're all just stuffing out faces, no matter what we look like, and people need to figure that out. When you can play that moment, you've got it."This is a great story. It hooks you from the moment it begins. It's an unabashed look at really real characters. K.L. Going sets such incredible scenes and conveys poweful moments with few words, but not too few, and it all just works, and it definitely sees through all the bullshit. I laughed, I cried, I loved it.
TigerLMS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Troy Billings is huge. He's six foot one and almost three hundred pounds. His size dominates nearly every thought, and he believes nearly everyone is always either looking at him or laughing at him, or maybe both. He's forever thinking in newspaper headlines about himeself: Fat Kid Can't Fit Through Turnstile or Fat Kid Splatters in Subway. Troy is about to throw himself in front of a New York City subway train when Curt MacCrae, a high school dropout/guitar hero from Troy's school, steps in and distracts him. Curt, who lives in the subway or the park or somewhere other than a home, insists Troy buy him lunch-- and before he knows it, Troy has been recruited to play drums in Curt's new band. The only catch? Troy has played drums only a couple times-- years ago, in junior high school. K.L. Going's debut novel has the best voice of any young adult book I've read in several years. You feel for Troy and get a great look at the world through his eyes and heart, and root for him throughout the story. Plus, the story is absolutely hilarious as Troy tries to stand up to his military-disciplined father and attempts to fit in with Curt's punk-rock crowd. I recommend this for reluctant readers and anyone looking for a fun, touching, and quick read.
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Troy, aka The Fat Kid, is on the brink of suicide when he first meets Curt McCray. Curt is a punk rock god. He is a talented musician; unfortunately, the rest of his life is a disaster. He is homeless, using prescription pills, and is full of lies to try to get through the day. He is also full or talent and ideas. Troy is just the opposite. He is so self-conscious and lives in his head all the time. Troy got fat after the death of his mother and thinks his fatness defines his life. At times I got sick of his whining and insecurity, but eventually, he gets it together to move toward self acceptance. Curt and Troy come together as a punk rock band. A journey into friendship, self-discovery, saving someone, and rock and roll.
annekiwi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really good read. I could really relate to the hero. He thinks everyone is looking at him because he is so fat, but really, no one is. Everyone is avoiding looking at him and it takes his new best friend to point that out to him and to help him realize the insecurities that even the "beautiful skinny people" suffer.
TeriHogg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"I'm a sweating Fat Kid standing just over the yellow line..." Curt suspects Troy might jump off the tracks and tells him he owes him food. And so begins an unlikely friendship between Troy, the 300 pound fat kid, and Curt, the skinny homeless kid. Troy's mind is filled with self-deprecating thoughts about himself and what others think of this "fat freak". Curt, on the other hand, steals bologna from his step dad, is filthy, and probably doesn't have a place to stay, yet is a genius punk rock guitarist at school. So why does he want Troy to be the drummer (by the way Troy can't play) in his new band, Rage/Tectonic. Both boys are terribly flawed. One eats too much while one uses too much. Both struggle with acceptance and want to be greater than people think they can achieve. I like this audiobook because the reader paces words and phrases just like I imagine Troy or Curt speaks. He sounds real. Boys are the target audience, but better suited for older teens. There are liberal usages of swear words, sexual innuendos, and drug use. However, this is a very well crafted story dealing with all the things boys think and wonder about. Highly recommended for boys ages 15-18.
fromthecomfychair on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't think you need to be obese to appreciate the struggles of Troy Billings. In fact, any kid who has ever felt marginalized by high school society will relate to Troy, as he contemplates throwing himself in front of the subway train on page one. Fortunately, the story has nowhere to go from there but up. "Up" arrives in the person of Curt MacCrae, a scruffy, emaciated, homeless teen who is also a guitar-playing genius revered by the local kids. This story is told from Troy's perspective, with self-deprecating wit; he makes us laugh with him, not at him. There are enough visceral details to appeal to boys and the story is never smarmy. You'll be cheering Troy along, as he attempts to overcome his own negative self-image. The audiobook version worked for me.
DavidDunkerton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fat Kid Rules the World is a story written in the first person of an overweight teenager who is depressed and even contemplates suicide, but I did not get the feeling he was ever serious about it. He becomes friends with a high school dropout that he had heard is an excellent guitar player, who lives as a homeless person most of the time. Their relationship is unusual but meaningful, and the protagonist learns to look at the world differently and that he can find a place to fit in.I enjoyed this author¿s writing style, and I liked how you learn little pieces of the background story as you go. The main character¿s mother died when he was in the third grade, and it is clear to see how that still affected him. Constantly referring to himself as ¿Fat Kid,¿ he had to learn not to worry about what other people thought. As his friend told him, ¿Like what you like.¿ (p. 39) Toward the end of the story, he gains confidence and discovers that he has a purpose, and he also develops a better relationship with his father and his brother.
welkinscheek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading Level: 10th-12th gradeTroy is seventeen years old, 6'1", and weighs nearly three hundred pounds. He can't understand what's so funny about that, although people seem to find him hilarious. It is not until he steps over the yellow line at the Second Avenue subway platform and pictures his body pulverized by the oncoming train that he begins to see the humor in his predicament, and his maniacal laughter piques the interest of Curt, who sits on the platform and observes him. Curt MacCrae is the skinniest and filthiest person Troy has ever seen. He is also a punk rocker, genius guitarist who dropped out of Troy's school and became legend. When Curt befriends him, insisting that Troy IS Punk Rock and must be the drummer for his new band, Troy begins to believe that Curt could be the one person to redeem him from his awkward self. Ultimately, however, it is Curt who needs to be rescued. Fat Kid Rules the World is told in first person from the perspective of Troy. His painful introspection demonstrates how miserable a person can become when he obsesses on his own flaws and believes that every other person is holding him under similar scrutiny. Troy transforms under the influence of his new friend and guru's admiration. Curt teaches Troy that he is completely, uniquely himself, that while he is so concerned about appearances, he is the only person on the planet who isn't trying to look like someone else. Curt idealizes this raw honesty, but Troy gradually learns that his friend's deceptions and self-delusions are leading him swiftly to a tragic end. Troy does not want to see the flame of Curt's incendiary talent extinguished, so in desperation he devises a plan that may keep his friend alive.This is a deep and soulful first novel by K.L. Going. The author has created a likeable character whose narration reveals him to be unfairly self-critical, funny, smart, sensitive, and possessed of an untapped well of inner- strength that becomes the key to his passion, his talent, and his humanity. Amazingly, the book is crafted so that the reader does not get bogged down in Troy's endless torrent of insecurity as he begins to think about someone other than himself. Fat Kid Rules the World's zine-like structure consists of short chapters, interspersed with headlines and captions Troy creates to illuminate certain moments, ideas, and people. It delves into and describes the very definitions of Punk Rock and friendship. This books content and its strong language should interest older teenagers and Young Adults. It's themes of suicide, obesity, drug abuse, and death, as well is its lack of positive, unobjectified female characters, make it a fascinating and disturbing glimpse into the world of teenage boys that ends on a surprisingly hopeful note.
NevilShute on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The reviews had me looking forward to this book. As it was, I found the characters disturbing and the story totally unreal. Maybe that is just me. I now have three copies of this in our collection. Not sure why.
edspicer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a thrill it is to read an author¿s first novel and find yourself covered with goose bumps! One of the quotes on the back cover states that you haven¿t read this one before. Believe me, you haven¿t. The 296-pound sweating fat kid in tan pants doesn¿t commit suicide. The book does not end with Troy happily on a diet. On the second to the last page Troy says, ¿I¿m the poster boy for obese drummers.¿ (182). The book begins and ends with the 296-pound fat kid knowing that his very presence directs our vision. What will give you the goose bumps are the sights and sounds while witnessing this performance. The beat of this book is that Troy is fat. He does want to commit suicide. Troy plans to jump into the path of a subway train. Skinny Curt MacCrae, homeless punk rock guitar virtuoso thinks Troy is laughing at him just before Troy plans to jump¿and an unlikely relationship begins. Curt gets it into his head that Troy will be his drummer for a new band he is forming. The only problem is that high-school-junior-Troy last played the drums in the eighth grade and he is a sweating 296-pound fat kid in tan pants. I¿ll bang the drum on the bandwagon for this book!
yhslibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Funny, compassionate story of a fat boy who is encourage by an unexpected 'friend' to become a drummer in his punk rock band. This story will make you feel good and also understand the darkness experienced by teens who don't fit in. It does have some language, so be warned.